Wild Grizzly Bear Viewing in British Columbia
Indian summer—”When the River Turns Red “with salmon
A very special time of year at Chilko is during “Indian summer”. It is an explosion of autumn colors, an abundance of wildlife, and an orchestra of sounds. With the changing seasons the Sockeye & Chinook salmon return in vast numbers, spawning in the river and lake. There is no more pure symbol of the Canadian wilderness than the grizzly bear, and to experience it in its natural habitat is an awe-inspiring experience.
With the returning of the salmon the Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Herons, Ducks, Ospreys, and other wildlife migrate to the river and lake to feast on the salmon. It is very common to view bears with a salmon in its mouth, or even better when it explodes into action as the bear chases a salmon across the shoreline, sending thousands of sparkling water drops everywhere. This is a wonderful time to visit Tsylos Park Lodge!
The Solitary Life of a Mountain Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear is a solitary creature and sometimes it seems a lonely life. Except for a brief time during mating season, the boar will spend his life alone. The sow is also solitary except when she is raising her cubs. Grizzly bears reach adulthood around five years of age and usually breed in the springtime of their fifth year, sometimes having their first cubs in their sixth season, many times later in her seventh or eighth year. After the spring breeding season the grizzlies will leave the valley and head to higher elevations to feed on sweet mountain grasses, and some of their favorite plants. As the summer ends they will return to the lower elevations to feed on berries and salmon. In late October and November they will find or create their winter den where they will sleep through the cold of winter.
Grizzly Bear Cubs
Grizzly bears have their own birth control. When the sow grizzly is impregnated in the spring, the implantation of the fertilized eggs, called blastocysts, is delayed until the denning season. If she is fat and healthy and reached sufficient body fat for hibernation, the eggs will attach to the uterus and she will bore healthy little bear cubs in January – March. If she has not reached sufficient body weight, the eggs will be passed. During your trip you will see many sow grizzlies with cubs. Although the average is two, they sometimes have three or even four, although four is rare. The grizzly sow is an excellent and protective mom. She is tough, loving, and a great teacher. On your trip you will see many sow and cubs feeding along the shore, taking a nap in the yard, sometimes the sow will be teaching her cubs to fish or fight. They are very interesting and beautiful creatures to watch and to learn from.
Identifying a Grizzly Bear
A large hump of muscle and fat on the grizzly’s shoulders easily identifies this species from the black bear. This muscle is used to move boulders to feed on the insects and grubs found underneath. Their shaggy fur comes in many colors–black, cinnamon, silver, red, blond, or a mixture of these colors. A mid-size Canadian bear can weigh up to 1,800 pounds, but most weigh in around 1,000 lbs. When standing on their hind legs, grizzlies can reach heights of up to ten feet.
What a Grizzly Bear Eats
Grizzly bears are omnivorous and like and eat a wide variety of foods — insects, wild honey, roots, grasses, mountain sorrel, white pine nuts, rose hips, Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, dandelions, fish, moose, elk, deer, sheep, and occasionally other bears. Their diet is ninety percent plants. Like us they need proteins and love fruits and sweets. In the springtime you can find grizzly bears grazing on sweet spring grasses, they look similar to a horse grazing on grass. They also root like a pig, hunting for roots, grubs, and insects that live in the soil. If you are out walking along a side hill and see freshly moved boulders, you are in a grizzly bear area. Plan your bear safari today!
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